August 22nd, election for the next Dene National Chief is fast approaching. It will be the first time since the late 1980’s that Bill Erasmus’ name will not be on the ballot. The longtime National Chief of the Dene Nation announced this Spring he would not be seeking re-election.
The first candidate to announce his intention to run was former Sahtu MLA Norman Yakeleya of Tulita.
“It’s an important time for our people and the land, my campaign is focusing on culture, unity, and healing,” Yakeleya told CKLB after announcing his candidacy at the Dene Nation Spring leadership meeting in Deline.
The other candidates didn’t announce their candidacy formally. It came from a press release from returning officer Lynda Comerford, who confirmed former chair of the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board Richard Edjericon, and GNWT employee Eileen Marlowe had submitted their nomination papers.
Edjericon is also a former chief of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, and Marlowe is originally from LutselK’e.
Yakeleya has covered the most ground during this campaign, attending the Tlicho Assembly in Whati, the Dehcho Assembly in Wrigley, and most recently attending the Midway Lake Music Festival near Fort McPherson. But, some critics say they question Yakeleya’s stance on the environment raising his political past and support for Husky Oil and hydraulic fracturing in the Sahtu during his time as MLA, and being booted from Premier Floyd Roland’s cabinet in 2008.
As for the other candidates, Marlowe says she hasn’t been able to travel, because she is still an employee of the Government of the Northwest Territories, currently on a secondment to the Akaitcho Territory Government as a communications officer.
“I cannot campaign during the work day, so Im really limited,” Marlowe told CKLB News.
Edjericon has been to the Sahtu community of Fort Good Hope, where he was working on a construction contract. He has also done some campaigning within his home community of Ndilo.
“I want to reconnect the Dene Nation with the Dene Cultural Institute, the Native Communications Society, the Native Women’s Association and our youth,” Edjericon told CKLB.
This is Edjericon’s second time running for Dene Naitonal Chief. He lost in his last run against Noeline Villebrun in the 1990’s. He was also a candidate for the Conservative Party of Canada in one federal election, losing to NDP candidate Dennis Bevington, and placing third behind Liberal MP Ethel Blondin-Andrew.
For the most part, it has been a quiet campaign. But, it could pick up with under 3 weeks remaining.